Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Life Is Like

Dawn Capes
Bay District Schools


Is life really like a box of chocolates? Is it more like a bowl full of cherries? Students explore how to create their own metaphors for life.


The student demonstrates a command of the language (including but not limited to precise word choice, appropriate figurative language).

The student uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the format (for example, using appropriate voice; using descriptive language to clarify ideas and create vivid images; using elements of style, such as appropriate tone).


-Each student will need a dictionary or thesaurus.
-Copies of student handouts, Life is like…, Life is…, Peer Conference, Peer Conference Checklist (See Associated File)
-Many copies of the rubric, I’m a Poet and Didn’t Know It-Summative Assessment 1 (See Extensions)
-Many copies of the Peer Conference and Peer Conference Checklist (Associated file)
-Student poetry folders
-Life Is Checklist, enough for each student to have one (Associated file)
-Handout How can I make poetry more poetic (From Lesson two, The Inside Story)
-Transparency of Life is a Scale (Optional)


1. Make copies of student handouts, Life is, Life is like, Peer Conference and Peer Conference Checklist. The students can either write on these or on their own notebook paper.
2. Make additional copies of the rubric (I’m A Poet and Didn’t Know It Summative Assessment 1) and the Peer Conference Checklist. Students will need at least one copy for this poem, plus additional copies for mess-ups and poems that will be written later.
3. Be prepared to formatively assess student poems and return on Day 9. Remember that this is a non-graded assignment as it is students’ first poems and their first opportunity with the rubric.
4. Make sure all student handouts from previous lessons in the unit have been formatively assessed and completed and returned to students for storage in their folders.
5. Use the example, Life is a Scale, provided in the Associated File if you feel students need an example.


Days 7 and 8 of the unit, I’m a Poet and Didn’t Know It!

Have students get their poetry folders as they enter class.

Share found poetry and post to bulletin board.

Pass back student handouts: The Lesson of the Moth or Mother to Son, I Just Want To Say and the Recap. Allow students a few moments to read any comments (formative feedback) that they have been given. Then, have them place the work in their poetry folders.

1. Begin by starting the phrase, “Life is like..” You may want to write this on the board as students enter the room. Students may say, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Ask students what this is an example of. (Simile) Ask if they know any others. Ones that they share will probably be ones that have been used time and time again. Explain that students will be given the opportunity to create their own metaphors and similes for life.
2. In previous lessons of this unit, students have had many opportunities to see poetic devices used in a variety of poems. Now, they will be given the opportunity to create their own poems.
3. Tell students that sometimes our inspiration for a great poem or idea can come from unusual or off the wall places. Inform students that today they will be writing “Life is” poems. They must use descriptive words and phrases, show mature command of language and include figurative language. Review that figurative language can be simile, metaphor, personification, and sensory language.
4. Explain that once they have written the poem, they will peer conference using the rubric that will be used to assess all of their poetry. Show students the rubric for Summative Assessment 1 entitled I’m a Poet and Didn’t Know It. Explain that this rubric will be used to not only peer conference with but to also formatively assess their poems once they are done.
5. Go over the rubric. Explain that the first set of criteria basically means that they use good (great, superior, excellent) vocabulary. The second set of criteria means that they take great words and combine them to create vivid images (and use line length, punctuation, rhythm to help create a vivid image). The third set of criteria means they use figurative language throughout their poem and they use it well. Make sure students notice what they need to do to earn full points and what will earn them the fewest points. Also, explain that the rubric is used to give feedback. They should take the time to read all of the criteria in each section.
6. Before students begin working, explain that they will be peer conferencing. (If your students already peer conference, then you may just need to briefly review how to peer conference.) Use the handout, Peer Conference, and go over the ground rules. Also go over the Peer Conference Checklist.
7. Now students are ready to begin their “life is” poetry. Explain that they will be using the dictionary to explore new things that life can be like. Remind them they can use the handout How can I make poetry more poetic?
8. Pass out the handout, Life is like, and go over the directions.
9. Give students sufficient time to explore the different words they can come up with. Be sure to walk around the room and assess how students are coming up with words. It should be random. Middle school students are notorious for wanting to find the worst words in the dictionary and use those.
10. Once students have had time to complete the Life is Like portion, pass out the handout Life Is.. and go over the directions. Give students sufficient time to complete this handout. Focus on the Writing Checklist located on the handout. If students say they’re done, ask them to use the checklist located on their assignment sheet before they begin peer conferencing or use it yourself to check student work. Again, monitor students as they are working.
11. Once students finish their poems, have them peer conference. Students will finish at different times. Both students MUST be done in order to peer conference. Be sure to monitor students who are peer conferencing to ensure they are working and not gossiping! They should be using the rubric and the Peer Conference Checklist.
12. Once students have peer conferenced, then they must do a rewrite. Monitoring is always a good idea.
13. Students will turn in their different drafts, a neatly written final copy, Peer Conference Checklist and the rubric. The teacher can use the Life Is Checklist and have students affix this to the front of their work.
14. The teacher will then use the rubric to formatively assess student poems.


Students’ poetry will be formatively assessed using the rubric, I’m a Poet and Didn’t Know It- Summative Assessment A. It is suggested that the same rubric be used, perhaps a highlighter or different colored pen to denote teacher comments from student comment. This should not be for a grade. This poem will be reworked after students have received their feedback from the teacher. As the poem is formatively assessed, make comments in addition to the rubric that will help students see where they have done great work and where they can still improve.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

2. Using a Word Wall may help students remember some of the complex vocabulary used within the unit. Simply use a blank section of the wall to post vocabulary words or other troublesome words written on construction paper. Remove words prior to the summative assessment.

Web Links

Use this link to obtain the handout, How can I make poetry more poetic?
Lesson Two, The Inside Story

Attached Files

Handouts for Life Is Like     File Extension: pdf

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